updated 06:20 pm EDT, Fri August 28, 2009
Controversial web bill
A proposed bill has Internet companies and civil liberty groups in a huff, as it would grant the US President the power to cut off private-sector users from the Internet during cyber security emergencies. The 55-page S. 773 bill (pdf), months in the making behind closed doors, is vague in its wording, but does suggest private Internet networks could be taken over by specially licensed individuals in the government.
Introduced in April in a different form by West Virginia Democrat and chairman of the Senate Commerce committee Senator Jay Rockefeller and Maine Republican Olympia Snowe, the bill was said to be essential to protect national cybersecurity.
"We must protect our critical infrastructure at all costs--from our water to our electricity, to banking, traffic lights and electronic health records," Rockefeller said.
There are other problems regarding the Government's role in dealing with the Internet. President Obama himself in May acknowledged that the government is "not as prepared" as it should be to respond to disruptions and would look to hire a security coordinator. The position is yet to be filled while a top cybersecurity aide has quit, prompting critics to wonder aloud why such an administration can be trusted to take over the private sector's access to the Internet.
The proposed bill seeks to make every federal agency draft a cybersecurity workforce plan and an overall comprehensive national cybersecurity strategy in six months.
The most controversial piece of wording in the bill is in Section 201, which allows the White House to periodically map private networks it deems to be critical and require that these companies share requested information with the government. [via CNET]